Leaving banking job to do a Phd Economics for a career in academia?


Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some advice.

I currently have a good banking job in one of the big banks. I joined a good Graduate Scheme after my MSc in Economics and have followed the traditional route into a corporate job.

I've been here two and a half years now and I've survived it at best and hated it at worst. I always wanted to do a Phd and become an academic, hence returning a year after graduating to do an MSc. I considered doing a Phd at the time but the lack of job security, coupled with the comfortable bonuses in the banking sector lead me onto the career I chose.

Part of me wonders if I should, or could take the leap back into study? I love the idea of spending my days reading and writing articles of interest, having the power to decide my own time and have a career which I actively enjoy- a vocation- not just riding out the typical corporate work week.

Would anyone have any advice on this? Has anyone returned to academia after a few years of work? Does anyone have any experience of an Economics Phd and the career prospects post completion? Is a career in academia as hard to achieve as I imagine? What can I add to support my application given I've had no research experience since my MSc?

Thanks in advance
Kind Regards


Hi Beth. I have done something not similar to what you want to do but somehow relevant. I was doing a corporate job for 6 years then decided to do MSc to work either in academia or industry but with more research and development role. I felt what I was doing back then is not what I want to do until the end of my career. My story is not a brilliant successful one but I would tell you shortly the pros and cons of leaving your stable job for the hope and ambitious of doing something you like
1- If you are a passionate person, follow your passion no matter what. Not making a decision is already a big decision. You will definitely regret you didn't do it. But if you went for a PhD, you "may" regret or not.
2- Nothing is really stable in the world. Your job looks stable but what would you do if someday you are placed under a horrible boss and terrible colleagues? You might quit your job by "your own will"
3- Life short. Stable jobs do not bring happiness neither good salaries. Also working in academia won't bring happiness. So do what you want at least not to feel sorry (point 1)
1- You might not be as successful as you hoped for. You might be an average PhD student (which in my opinion is absolutely fine) but you might not produce the "brilliant" research output we all expected before starting
2- Securing a stable academic role is tough. Typically you have to jump in a few Postdoc roles each of 1-3 years. I do not have statistics but I think from my basic observations that it might take 6-10 years after PhD to secure an academic role (either research officer or lecturer). You should be also flexible about the city.
- To be continued ...


3- There is a high possiblity that you won't work in academia because of the limited opportunities and limited funding. You might go for a role similar to yours after spending 4-5 year of research
My opinion:
Hope for the best, but be ready for the "not very bad" to come. If you could not secure an academic role, accept some role which includes some research and development. If you did a PhD and then got a job similar to yours, do not regret it. Corporate jobs are always there and what could 4-5 years have added to you if you stayed in your job? After 15 years, you would have 10 years experience and a PhD instead of 15 years experience, so what?
Try to do the transition smoothly. Look for a funded PhD that guarantees paying your rent and bills. You do not have to live in luxury but do not go for starving.
Do not think too much that I have used to earn xxxx. I had a nice office. Just get your hand dirty in the academia and enjoy it.
I personally do not regret my decision but somehow I believe I could have reeacted better to some situations and I could have worked harder but this all you can avoid.
I wish you the best and would recommend "proceed but with caution"


Hi Beth, I know someone who did what you are planning to do, and they are doing well. They work in research now, although not in academia.